With most RPGs usually giving the player either a third or first person perspectives to explore the often enormous worlds which can be found within the games, many fans have been yearning for years for a return to the top down view which was found in many classics including the Balders Gate series. The Adventures of Van Helsing is a new Action RPG by NeoCore games which seeks to emulate the style of the classics whilst giving a new twist to the games by featuring a large amount of sharp, and for the most part, witty dialogue as well as having lush 3D graphics that make the world feel truly alive.
It’s clear that the game has its focus on immersing the player with a lengthy and very engaging story that is extremely well written, with quirky characters, hilarious lines as well as being very well paced, grabbing the player from the start and never letting go. Indeed, the titular character is extremely likable as is his accomplice, former nobility turned ghost Katarina, who is one of the rare video game accomplices who actually helps the player rather than being an annoyance. As a ghost she can’t die, but instead turns incorporeal upon her death, alleviating having to worry about having to constantly boost her health. The player levels up throughout the game and can put their various points into skills and traits, encouraging unique styles of playing. You can either keep at a distance and shoot the enemies from far away or choose to get up close and personal with your sword. Both styles come with a variety of different magical abilities which compliment however you choose to play. The ability to level up is extended to Katarina, whose abilities are directly tied to your own at your benefit.
The game is very long, yet there’s little doubt that players will be left wanting more considering just how great of an experience playing through The Adventures Of Van Helsing is and there is a ton of potential within the world of the game. The enemies are very inventive and well-designed drawing upon many creatures from folklore and giving them a new lease of life. They’re not mindless animals, however, and there are some choices that will make you feel very uneasy with what you’ve done and make you ponder whether you did the right thing.
With all that said, however, there are some flaws to be found within the game not least the controls which are extremely basic as the player moves and shoots with left and right click buttons. The ability to be able to move via the keyboard is an essential addition that we need to hope will be added as you will often find yourself surrounded by enemies unable to move because the game takes your clicking as you attacking rather than trying to run and you will die a large amount of times. The aforementioned swarming of enemies is also a problem as there are often so many that you can’t even see what’s happening and you’ll be lost in midst of the action, winding up dead before you even know it. It’s annoying to have control of your fate to be taken out of your hands but as a whole this doesn’t detract that much from the overall experience, serving more as a minor annoyance rather than a game ruining occurrence.
The Adventures of Van Helsing is also extremely difficult even on the lower settings; whether you find this to be a curse or a blessing depends on your on preferences, but personally this reviewer liked the feeling of triumph that comes as a result of defeating the odds. You will have to use some tactical prowess to overcome enemies and as such you can’t simply go in all games blazing. By making the player think about what they’re doing and how they approach it, the developers ensure that you’re kept engaged all the way through and that each challenge is unique, allowing you to be proud of your accomplishments as you progress.
The Adventures of Van Helsing is an excellent game that deserves to be played by those looking for an extremely well written experience and for fans of old school RPGs everywhere. With a game length that puts many AAA developers to shame, NeoCore Games punched well above their weight and succeeded where so many indie games have failed in the past.